Put On a Happy Face

“Re-examine all that you have been told… dismiss that which insults your soul.”

-Walt Whitman

In the last few months I’ve heard this phrase more times than I can count.
“I had no idea what was going on in your life.”
Truthfully, neither did I. I had perfected the act of “putting on a happy face” so well I even convinced myself.
 I was the little engine that could, right up until the point where I crashed into a brick wall.
Accepting anything less than perfect about yourself is hard. We all like to believe the best about ourselves, and those around us. And that’s good in principle, but it also allows us to lie to ourselves. To deceive ourselves. To put on a happy face and ignore the oncoming wreck.
 Authentic living, and feeling, and reacting, is hard. It’s hard to be honest when you know it’s not what someone else wants to hear or see. It’s hard to be truthful when you know you may get yelled at. Or rejected. Or made fun of. And over the years it was easy to get worn down, and get quiet, and put on the front others expected. But the fault was mine. I wasn’t strong enough. I was weak.
I would rather be truthful than have a million happy people around me, people that are only happy because I’m doing everything in my power to make them that way, at the expense of the truth.
I’ve also discovered I’m not the only one. We’re drifting around in an ocean full of people who are afraid of admitting how they really feel. People who are miserable on the inside. People who smile and wear the right clothes and say all the right things and go to the right church. People who have blogs and post pictures and all the while are dying a little bit on the inside.
It’s not the club I want membership in anymore.
Christians like me, the ones of us who divorce, face a particularly big hurdle. Because the church likes a happy face. The church likes things all lined up in a row, boxes checked off, just as it should be. The church, I’m really sad to say, judges really quickly… and sometimes without any semblance of compassion.
I’m not lumping all churches into the burn pile, please don’t misunderstand. And the church I formerly attended does have some compassionate people. But it is still a sad fact that the pressure from “church” is the reason so many people are putting on a happy face instead of revealing their emotions or becoming more transparent. It’s the precipitating motivator for so many people to hide their problems, or struggles, or pains.
The past few months have without a doubt been the hardest of my life. Being truthful and authentic has been harder than postpartum depression. It’s been harder than dropping my six week old baby off at daycare for nine hours a day. It’s been harder than losing Angela. 
But in the end, even with the rejections, and anger, and judgement, and church hurts, it’s been worth it. It’s been worth it to wake up in the morning, stare at my ceiling fan and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s been worth it to know I don’t have to pretend, or walk on eggshells. I feel great relief that for the first time in many, many years, I’m able to live truthfully.
I’m no longer putting on a happy face.
And that makes me very, very happy.

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